Head coach Jim Curtin’s group will face either the Portland Timbers or NYCFC next Wednesday, with their opponent to be determined from Saturday’s nightcap quarterfinal matchup (10:30 pm ET | FS1, TUDN, FOX Deportes in US; TSN in Canada).
Following a stale opening stanza, the Union blitzed Sporting for three goals in 15 minutes. It all started when Jamiro Monteiro made it 1-0 in the 24th minute, tapping home after Alejandro Bedoya squared across goal with the defense split open.
The Union quickly doubled their advantage in the 26th minute on Santos’ first of the evening. He latched onto SKC defender Luis Martins’ poor back pass after an attacking free-kick, then sprinted 80 yards before chipping over Tim Melia for the 2-0 lead.
Santos found his second in the 39th minute, brushing home with his left foot after a brilliant Brenden Aaronson turn in midfield. The US men’s national team prospect let the ball run across his body, then slipped his teammate through for the 3-0 advantage.
Sporting weren’t dealt a knockout blow, though, and they scored just before halftime via Alan Pulido’s header. The Mexican No. 9 drifted to the back post in stoppage time, and powerfully headed home Johnny Russell’s cross.
Head coach Peter Vermes brought on all five substitutes in search of a comeback, but Union goalkeeper Andre Blake produced six saves to continue to his impressive form. Sporting were also without forward Khiry Shelton, who had two goals in Group D play.
- 24' – PHI – Jamiro Monteiro | WATCH
- 26' – PHI – Sergio Santos | WATCH
- 39' – PHI – Sergio Santos | WATCH
- 45' (+1) – SKC – Alan Pulido | WATCH
Man of the Match presented by Heineken
With three goals in Philadelphia's last two games, Sergio Santos is a man on fire right now. The Brazilian striker was brilliant on his breakaway attempt, and then calmly finished after Brenden Aaronson's through ball. Simply great stuff.
- THE BIG PICTURE. Sporting hold first place in the Western Conference standings, but didn’t have the conviction you’d expect from a club on that perch. On the flipside, Philly are now one game away from the final in Orlando. They just continue climbing.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The shoulder dip, the pass, the awareness. Yep, that’s why Brenden Aaronson is being talked about as a high-priced transfer target.
- YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: The Union’s first two goals came in quick succession. They were two minutes and 28 seconds apart, to be precise.
- PHI: Wednesday, Aug. 5 vs. TBD, MLS is Back Tournament Semifinals (8:00 pm ET | FS1, TUDN/UniMas in US; TSN, TVA Sports 2 in Canada)
- SKC: End of Tournament